“Windmill Tales deftly presents these mechanical wonders as western icons… Wyman Meinzer’s images, each executed with precision and thoughtful perspective, range from grand, silhouetted landscapes to nuanced details. Every picture invites the reader to investigate further, to explore the contraption’s engineering and rustic beauty” – “Great Plains Quarterly”.
“The only sound that day was from the windmill, a creaking sound that a windmill makes turning in the summer breeze. It is a memory I deeply cherish and why I love windmills so much” – A visitor to the American Wind Power Center.
On the prairies of North America, wind and water were pervasive, but whereas wind was tangible, water in quantity was hidden beneath the surface. The vast grasslands fed great herds of animals, which in turn sustained native Americans, but it was not until water could be brought to the surface that the plains could be cultivated and developed into a great agricultural bread-basket for the growing nation. The self-governing windmill forever changed the culture of this vast region.
The agricultural development of the plains is the story of the ingenuity, hardship, success, and sometimes failure of settlers as they applied a new technology in an environment with which they were barely familiar. The stories of these settlers and of their children and grandchildren often focus on the windmill, for this source of life-sustaining water often became the center of ranch and farm life. In “Windmill Tales”, in ninety-nine beautiful full-color images, photographer Wyman Meinzer shows American windmills as they appear today.
Many of them are still working, and others have fallen or are preserved at the American Wind Power Center, but all illustrate the way of life that was made possible by the windmill. Brief reminiscences and stories told by visitors to the American Wind Power Center give the reader a sense of the central importance of windmills in the lives of early pioneers in the West. Some of the stories reflect the sense of humor ranch and farm families developed to help them through hard times, whereas others hint at disappointment and tragedy. Together with the photographs they give us a fascinating insight into our history.